Guildford City (2) 3, Knaphill (0) 2
by Barry Underwood
Hot on the heels of Donovan Chislett’s resignation the fixture list had planned a midweek derby meeting between City and local neighbours Knaphill. Director of Youth football Phil Bowers had stepped into the breech as caretaker manager, assisted on the bench for the night by Merrow FC boss Chris Balchin. During the day Bowers was still trying to assess what players were still available to him, and it was hugely to his credit that he and his bench were able to field, and inspire the team to a memorable success. Sadly the evening was blighted for the visitors when Steve Brown went down in a heavy challenge early on and was subsequently discovered to have broken his leg. Our best wishes go out to him for a speedy recovery.
The match started brightly for both sides, each looking to get forward at every opportunity. The first real opening saw Liam Beach blocking a Jimmy Norman effort with his feet after a City failure to clear their lines. Meanwhile the silky ball skills of Andy Ottley and new Surrey Uni student Curtis George were on display without the final killer pass finding a home, although Josh Drew did find space in the box to spin and shoot only to be blocked by a fast closing defence. Deadlock was eventually broken in City’s favour when Curtis George was bundled over on the edge of the box, and from an exquisite delivery from Andy Ottley, Matt York was on hand to head home for his fifth goal of the season. The visitors looked dangerous in response and on 35 minutes a Mark Watkins header came back off the crossbar and was cleared. Minutes later a curling effort from the edge of the box looked for the entire world it was heading for the corner but a small deflection saw the ball ghost just past the post. Two minutes before the half-time whistle City took that all important two goal lead. A long throw from Jordan Taylor got a flick on and Josh Drew judged his run perfectly to arrive at the far post to side foot home.
In the second-half Knaphill took more of a direct route and to some effect. Having a height advantage in dangerous areas saw several chances, before in the 62nd minute a long kick from goalkeeper Luca Bertelove evaded two City defenders leading to Mark Watkins having the chance to slam the ball home. Now it was game-on! Minutes after the visitor’s goal Guildford had a glorious chance to regain their two goal lead. A deep free-kick into the box was met by Matt York’s head and Josh Drew’s close range volley sadly just cleared the crossbar. Sceptics in the crowd might have thought this miss could have been costly but within Short Order City had scored again! An excellent cross field pass from Drew saw substitute Courage Moda and a defender vying for the ball and after a poor defensive touch the speedy Moda was onto the ball to slide it calmly past Bertelove with his very first touch of the game. Anything City could do, Knaphill could do as well and immediately they hit back to draw back within one goal. A deep corner was headed back into the danger area where Mark Watkins was on hand to head home. During the late stages there was definitely an element of Guildford hanging on to their lead. Ball after ball was being fired forward but the red and white defence stood firm. Deep into stoppage time another high ball into the box was headed goal ward and somehow young Liam Beach got across to palm the ball to safety and at the same time confirm a valuable victory.
Team: Liam Beach, Jordan Taylor, Connor Hall (Danny Bowers 45), Micky Thompson, Matt York, Jack Collins, Rory Cornelius, Andy Ottley (Courage Moda 65), Curtis George, Josh Drew, Nathaniel Williams (Josh Everard 60). Unused sub: Toby Johnson.
Referee: Mark Hounsell
Attendance – 106